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Philly MLS 25: From Lancaster to Germany and back, Russell Canouse blazed unique trail to MLS mainstay

A pro in Germany at 18, Canouse has become a mainstay in DC United’s midfield

Colorado Rapids v DC United Photo by Jose Argueta/ISI Photos/Getty Images

As we count down the days until the MLS season begins, we will be looking at 25 players from greater Philadelphia who have made an impact on the league 25 years after the first ball was kicked. Read the rest of the series at brotherlygame.com/philly-mls-25.


Russell Canouse was in many ways a trailblazer when he left Lancaster at the age of 16 to pursue a professional career abroad.

Now 25 and a mainstay in the D.C. United midfield, Canouse left home in 2011 to join TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in Germany initially in their academy and worked his way into the first team.

His debut in the Bundesliga came in 2016 before he was sent out on loan to VfL Wolfsburg. After making 20 appearances with Wolfsburg, Canouse decided to return to the U.S. and sign with D.C. United, where he had a chance to play for another Central Pa. native in his now former head coach Ben Olsen.

“Most players like the idea of playing near or close to their hometown,” Canouse told BrotherlyGame in 2018. “Back before the Philadelphia Union were around my dad would take me down to D.C. United games.”

Russell’s dad, Greg Canouse, played for Drexel in the early ‘80s so soccer was always in his blood. “My dad was always into soccer and gave me my first ball to kick around,” Canouse said in 2018.

After being part of PA Classics for their inaugural season in the U.S. Development Academy, Canouse joined the Red Bull Academy and after a season there embarked on his European journey.

Since joining D.C. in 2017, he’s logged over 6,000 minutes in MLS regular season and postseason matches, gotten married and also managed to complete the training to become a realtor.

D.C. United signed Canouse to a three-year contract extension last March a week after he scored the team’s first goal of 2020.

“Russell has been an integral part of the club’s success over the last two and a half seasons,” Dave Kasper, D.C. United General Manager and VP of Soccer Operations, said in a news release announcing the signing. “His competitive influence and versatility combined with his high soccer IQ have been invaluable to our group. We are delighted to extend his contract and look forward to more game-winning contributions in the future.”

Canouse came to town on Wednesday with D.C. United to take on the Philadelphia Union in the Union’s final preseason match at Subaru Park. He came on in the second half of the 2-0 Union win. Loudoun United midfielder Drew Skundrich also played in the match for D.C.

The PAClassics ’94 boys team made the local paper in August 2006 when they won an EPA Youth Soccer Challenge Cup championship. Russell Canouse is seated second from the left.

Skundrich, a former Bethlehem Steel midfielder who joined Loudoun United in the offseason, played with Canouse both for PA Classics and when they were freshmen at Hempfield High School (Skundrich is kneeling fourth from the left in the above photo). Hempfield grad Travis Worra was with D.C. United when Canouse initially joined the team, but has since retired from the game.